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In a 6-2 decision issued today, the U.S. Supreme Court handed a major victory to the Obama administration and its efforts, through the Environmental Protection Agency, to force polluters to, well, stop polluting:
The court's 6-2 decision unblocks a 2011 rule requiring 28 states to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants that travel across state lines, hurting the air quality in downwind states. Typically, the pollution wafts eastward, from midwestern and Appalachian states toward areas on the Atlantic Coast. The majority consisted of Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, Roberts, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, with Alito having recused himself.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing the court's majority opinion, said the EPA's formula for dealing with cross-state air pollution was “permissable, workable and equitable”
In his dissent, Justice Scalia (joined by Justice Thomas) criticized the EPA's rule by quoting from (without actually citing) Karl Marx's The Communist Manifesto. I'm not kidding.
The EPA issued these so-called "good neighbor" rules to help states that suffered from significant out of state pollution (93 percent of Connecticut's pollution, for example, arises from outside the borders of that state), but was sued by companies and state governments such as Michigan, Texas, and Ohio that, one can only assume, felt like no one can tell them they can't spew poison into the air and not care.
In addition to the direct impact of this case, legal analysts also suggested that Justice Ginsburg's decision indicates that the push by the White House to rely on the Clean Air Act as giving them the legal authority to combat climate change stands a good chance of being upheld by the court. The good justice's ruling also showed off her knowledge of Scripture:
“Some pollutants stay within upwind states’ borders, the wind carries others to downwind states, and some subset of that group drifts to states without air quality problems,” she wrote, adding a biblical quotation from the Book of John: “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth.”
The wind giveth, and the wind taketh away. So, we see, does the Supreme Court.
Originally posted to Ian Reifowitz on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 10:55 AM PDT.